The Ministry of National Development (MND) on Thursday (May 7) announced that it has signed a Mutual Termination Agreement with Eternal Pure Land (EPL) to terminate a July 2014 award for a place of worship (PW) site at Fernvale Link in Sengkang.
MND will re-tender the land for its original purpose as a site for a Chinese temple, it said.
Residents had objected to EPL’s plans to build a commercial columbarium at the site and Minister of National Development Khaw Boon Wan had promised in Parliament that he would “try to unwind” the issue, after it was discovered that EPL, owned by Australian company Life Corporation, is private company without any religious affiliation.
In a statement, Life Corporation said its company chairman Samuel Kong is “pleased that a mutually acceptable agreement was able to be reached with the Singapore Government and the professional manner in which discussions were held”.
Life Corporation said that through EPL, it receive a full refund of S$5,200,988 – the tender price for the lease of the Fernvale land, as well as a refund of all related government and regulatory fees and expenses paid for the lease.
As part of the deal to terminate the award, MND said the Government will also release a small plot of land to EPL for a technology pilot project for columbarium services.
Confirming this, Life Corporation said it has already submitted a proposal for the project through its affiliated entity Life Corporate Services. It will be Singapore’s first fully automated columbarium facility, its chairman said.
MND’s statement is as follows:
The July 2014 award of the Fernvale Link PW site to EPL was the first time a PW site had been awarded to a company that is not affiliated to a religious organisation. However, as the Government’s intent has always been for the Fernvale Link site (zoned as “PW”), to be awarded to a religious organisation or its affiliate for the development of a Chinese Temple, EPL’s 2014 bid was not in line with the Government’s plan for the site.
EPL understood that its bid was not congruous with the planning intent for a PW site, and has thus agreed to terminate the awarded contract by mutual consent. Under the Mutual Termination Agreement, the Government will refund EPL the full land premium and associated taxes and duties, which EPL has paid to Government for the site. This is only fair as the contract of the Fernvale Link site has been terminated. There is no other separate payment.
EPL originally intended to use the Fernvale Link site to test out its automated columbarium system and operating model, and remains keen to explore projects where it can meet the growing needs for columbarium and end-of-life services in Singapore. EPL has separately, through a related company, submitted a proposal for a pilot project, which URA has assessed to hold potential to enhance land use efficiency and minimise dis-amenity to surrounding users.
Given these merits and the need for such end-of-life services in our ageing society in the long run, the Government has decided to release a small plot of land to EPL for a technology pilot project for columbarium services. The site will be on land zoned for cemetery use and priced at market value based on columbarium use as determined by the Chief Valuer. The termination of the contract for the Fernvale Link site and the release of the small plot of land for the pilot project are part of the Mutual Termination Agreement.
The Government will re-tender the Fernvale Link site to restore the original planning intent of a Chinese Temple development.
Source : Channel NewsAsia – 7 May 2015